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Leon Kaye headshot

Bouqs Wants You to Send Flowers from Farm to Table

By Leon Kaye

We have all survived another Christmas and New Year’s season, just in time to be tantalized by displays touting Valentine’s Day. That means some of us need to remember to send that special someone flowers to show our love, devotion and tax bracket. Or maybe we just want to celebrate being single and send flowers to ourselves.

That often means having those flowers delivered, which even during this age of online ordering can be a headache. While online shopping has become so easy it’s almost the new addiction, finding that special bouquet is annoying. There are constant upsells, tacky frills that we wish weren’t on the bouquet and then, in the age of free shipping, comes the exorbitant delivery fee (isn’t oil at under $40 a barrel now?).

Then, of even more concern to 3p’s readership, is the flower industry’s impact on people and the environment. The demand for freshly-cut flowers, and the often nefarious results, have long been documented in the media. The opening scenes of "Maria Full of Grace" are the reality of many workers in Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico: Low pay, sexual harassment and human rights violations such as child labor have been documented by several NGOs. Fair trade flowers are available, but in the rush to deliver those $1.5 billion to $2 billion worth of flowers on Feb. 14, that option is often overlooked. Despite the imagery, the flower industry is ripe for innovation and humanization.

One Southern California company is changing how flowers are sourced and sold. Bouqs, based in Venice, California, promises to deliver flowers directly from farms in South America. Customers can visit the company’s site and select a bouquet, and they will receive their selection anywhere from two to four days later, as opposed to the 10- to 14-day average flowers take from when they are cut to time of delivery. Less storage time also means less waste — anywhere from 33 to 40 percent of all flowers marketed in the U.S. end up never sold. And on the business side, pricing is simple -- as low as $40 flat for all of its featured bouquets, including delivery. Although the flowers sourced from its farm in Ecuador are not officially certified, the company claims its partner offers day care, health care and education for its employees — while practicing “sustainable, eco-friendly farming.” As far as flowers go, this is about as farm-to-table as you can get.

The result is a company that has scored press across the board, from the Wall Street Journal touting the impression Bouqs has made on investors, to celebs showing off the startup’s arrangements. Meanwhile the company is recruiting florists to join its network. With a solid business model and the drive to make this industry more humane and sustainable, this young company is poised for even more growth and disruption. For once, that Valentine’s Day bouquet may actually be a guilt-free purchase.

Image credit: Bouqs

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye